Irma sucks water out of Tampa waterways

National Guard

Irma is a category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Florida emergency management director Bryan Koon said officials would wait until first light on Monday to begin rescue efforts and assess damage.

Hurricane Irma's leading edge bent palm trees and spit rain as the storm swirled toward Florida with 120 miles per hour winds Saturday on a projected new track that could expose Tampa - not Miami - to a direct hit.

After the Keys, Irma crossed over warm waters and hit the U.S. mainland near the beach town of Marco Island.

If it turns towards Miami, then Tampa residents will experience a Category 1-2 storm, and Miami will get the brunt of a Category 4-5 - or vice versa.

People in Florida and the Bahamas have looked on in disbelief as the force of Hurricane Irma appeared to suck shorelines bare and expose sea beds. He said the massive storm is likely to cause widespread damage and that people should stay away until they are told by local officials that they can return. Up to 8 inches of rain is expected locally.

More than a million people on the Caribbean's largest island have been evacuated as a precaution, authorities said.

However, Irma is expected to fizzle out over land while Hurricane Jose will make a loop before moving west again. "This is a life-threatening situation", it added. Almost five million Floridians are without power, according to Florida Power & Light officials.

President Donald Trump has vowed a full response to Irma and continued federal support for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Texas.

The hurricane was responsible for at least 26 deaths, including 10 in Cuba, as it passed through Caribbean island nations.

"It's certainly one of those metropolitan areas where we have one of the greatest concerns, particularly with storm surge, particularly with inexperience", Feltgen said.

After leaving Florida, a weakened Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Sunday night issued a mandatory evacuation for some barrier islands, CNN reported.

The National Hurricane Center forecast takes the storm's path out to five days.

With the exception of emergency personnel, the state government will be closed Monday and Tuesday. The hurricane is one of the most powerful and longest-lasting on record.

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